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Artist brightens train station with striking mural design

Published: 23 January 2024
Colourful mural on railway bridge
New mural at Southampton Central Station. Credit: Southampton City Council

A new, large, colourful mural by a former Winchester School of Art (WSA) student has been installed at Southampton Central train station.

The design by Poppy Ash now welcomes commuters arriving to and leaving from the city, with depictions of Southampton’s vibrant cultural life and key landmarks. The artwork takes pride of place on the once bare wall of a pedestrian bridge on the south side of the railway line.

Poppy, who graduated from WSA in Fine Art (BA Hons), has gone on to become a practising artist commissioned by a wide-range of clients. She comments: “I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to share my artwork and celebrate the wonderful places and activities that Southampton has to offer.

“I have so many great memories attached to Southampton, from University, to friends and involvement in the local art collective, ZEST. I’m excited to see how it transforms the space and can’t wait to see how it evolves to spotlight the work of other local artists.”

The mural was originally developed as part of a community art project ‘open call’ led by the University of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery. The gallery was searching for artists to create designs to display on the exterior of its building in Guildhall Square. Poppy’s design wasn’t initially selected, but went on to be chosen for the station project instead.

Funded by GO! Southampton, she worked with muralist Callum Young to create the full size version for the rail bridge. Callum says: “It is great to be able to use my experience in mural painting to bring this design to life. It is always exciting to do artist collaborations, especially in the city I grew up and live in.”

Director of the John Hansard Gallery, Woodrow Kernohan, says: “We are thrilled that local artist Poppy Ash's artwork will bring new life to Southampton's Central Station. Her vivid design captures icons of Southampton's diverse art, sport and culture. We hope this new mural will create more opportunities for artists, as well as enliven the city’s built environment."

The project has been supported by Network Rail and South Western Railway and is part of a programme of improvements to the forecourt of Southampton Central Station. The partners involved aim to create a changing space, showcasing the work of talented local artists and provide a colourful welcome to people in the city.

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